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Industry demands help from IT educators

For immediate release
6 December 2006

Industry demands help from IT educators

While a Dunedin newspaper last week described the international information technology skill shortage as ‘looming’ the Department of Labour says it’s already here.

IT is listed in the DoL’s Skill Shortage Assessment Report (released today) as an area of ‘genuine skill shortage’. The report shows that in 2005-06, employers of IT professionals were only able to fill 64% of their advertised vacancies. The average number of suitable applicants per vacancy was only 1.9, despite the average hourly rate for IT professionals being more than 10% higher than similar professions. [1]

Conversely the number of diploma and degree-level graduates in 2005 was 1300, a 24% drop since 2003.

The report’s findings comes as no surprise to Otago Polytechnic Associate Professor Sam Mann who has found demand for his Information Technology graduates to be at an all- time high.

“We are getting a lot of requests from employers seeking our help in finding staff” he explains. “Even when we ourselves [Otago Polytechnic] advertised for a web-developer recently we only received two suitable applications.”

This year’s class of BIT graduates had carried out high-level industry projects that involving software and hardware developments. One group in particular had completed a complex project that stood to benefit local company Wedderburn Scales and their clients to the tune of many thousands of dollars. Another group worked on a monitoring system for trainee fire-fighters that was likely to be rolled out nationwide.

It was this kind of experience dealing with clients in the real world, coupled with strong theoretical know-how that made the graduates extremely attractive to employers. The industry was screaming out for more graduates with similar skill-sets, Dr Mann said.



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